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J Am Heart Assoc. 2012 Dec;1(6):e004200. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.004200. Epub 2012 Dec 19.

Prevalence, distribution, and risk factor correlates of high thoracic periaortic fat in the Framingham Heart Study.

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  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



Thoracic periaortic adipose tissue (TAT) is associated with atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and may play a role in obesity-mediated vascular disease. We sought to determine the prevalence, distribution, and risk factor correlates of high TAT.


Participants from the Framingham Heart Study (n=3246, 48% women, mean age 51.1 years) underwent multidetector computed tomography; high TAT and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were defined on the basis of sex-specific 90th percentiles in a healthy referent sample. The prevalence of high TAT was 38.1% in women and 35.7% in men. Among individuals without high VAT, 10.1% had high TAT. After adjustment for age and VAT, both women and men with high TAT in the absence of high VAT were older and had a higher prevalence of CVD (P<0.0001) compared with those without high TAT. In addition, men in this group were more likely to be smokers (P=0.02), whereas women were more likely to have low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P=0.005).


Individuals in our community-based sample with high TAT in the absence of high VAT were characterized by an adverse cardiometabolic profile. This adipose tissue phenotype may identify a subset of individuals with distinct metabolic characteristics.


body fat distribution; obesity; perivascular adipose tissue; risk factors; visceral adipose tissue

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